All posts tagged middle eastern

  • freekeh with chickpeas and pomegranates

    Pomegranate season is drawing to a close. I’m trying to make the most of it, sprinkling arils over a bowl of hummus, substituting it for tomatoes in tabbouleh, adding handfuls to bowls of yogurt, and including it in simple grain dishes like this one with freekeh. This is a perfect make ahead sort of lunch that can be prepped the night before and enjoyed over the next few days. Freekeh, a whole grain made from green wheat, has an earthy and nutty taste with a chewy texture. It’s worth picking up if available in your neck of the woods. Freekeh can be found at specialty and Middle Eastern groceries. Here in Portland, I’ve spotted it at three stores with mysteriously similar names – World Foods (love this place!), Whole Foods, and World Market. If freekeh isn’t available in your area, farro, wheat berry, bulgur, and even brown rice would make good substitutes.

    freekeh with chickpeas and pomegranates

    Freekeh with Chickpeas and Pomegranates

    1 cup freekeh
    1 onion, chopped
    1 clove garlic, finely minced
    1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, roasted
    1 cup cooked chickpeas
    1/2 cup pomegranate arils
    1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used pistachios and walnuts)
    2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    salt & pepper, to taste

    Preheat oven to 400F. In a small baking dish, coat the broccoli florets lightly in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place it in the oven. Set an alarm for 15 minutes.

    Fill water in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat. Once boiling, add a couple pinches of salt to the water and add the freekeh. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook according to package directions. Set aside once it’s ready.

    Once the kitchen timer/alarm goes off, check on the broccoli. If the broccoli has caramelized around the edges, it’s ready. If not, pop it in the oven and set the timer for 5 minutes. Once the broccoli is ready, set it aside and let it cool.

    In a medium sized skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, chop an onion. Add the onion to the skillet, and stir frequently while chopping the garlic, prepping the pomegranate, rinsing the chickpeas, chopping the nuts and parsley. Add the garlic to the skillet stir until fragrant, or about 15 seconds. Transfer the onion and garlic mixture to the sauce pan containing the cooked freekeh. Add the broccoli florets, chickpeas, pomegranate arils, nuts, parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the sauce pan as well. Mix thoroughly. Turn the heat on medium-low and heat until warm. Season to taste, and add more olive oil, salt, and pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.

    Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side

  • pomegranate walnut tabbouleh

    pomegranate tabbouli parsley walnuts

    My CSA share this week included a monstrous pile of parsley. Half of it was frozen into ice cubes for future soups, some of it went into a frittata, a handful was stirred into a tomato sauce that was served with polenta, but I wanted to make sure the rest of it a chance to shine on its own. I set out to make tabbouleh, but things did not go according to plan once I went shopping. I passed on the tomatoes for a gorgeous pomegranate and bulgur was nowhere to be found, so I went home and made something that wasn’t quite authentic tabbouleh, but sort of  a transition into fall tabbouleh. Tabbouleh is a Lebanese salad, made primarily with parsley and a handful of mint, with flecks of bulgur (cracked wheat), chopped tomatoes, and coated with a lemon and olive oil dressing that begs to be sopped up with copious amounts of bread. It’s not uncommon to see tabbouleh recipes that use couscous, quinoa, or millet instead of bulgur, but I used crushed walnuts here. Since discovering pomegranate and walnut stew a few years ago, I’ve learned that pomegranates and walnuts make a great pair.

    This makes a good side dish to just about any Middle Eastern meal, but it’s especially delicious with a little tahini sauce or hummus rolled up in a piece of flat bread. I’d say this serves 6 to 8 as a side dish, but I keep sneaking into the kitchen several times a day to take bites out of it straight from the container, so who knows. It’s almost gone and I’m already itching to make another batch.

    Pomegranate Walnut Tabbouleh
    Note: to avoid soggy tabbouleh, let the parsley and mint dry before chopping. This can be done with a strainer and paper towels, but a salad spinner will be your best friend here.

    2 cups flat leaf parsley, chopped
    1/4 cup mint, chopped
    1/2 red onion, diced
    seeds (arils) of one pomegranate
    1/3 cup walnuts, crushed
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon sumac
    1/8 teaspoon allspice
    salt and pepper, to taste

    Chop the parsley, mint, and onions with your sharpest knife. De-seed pomegranate. Place the walnuts in a mortar and crush them with a pestle (or give them a whirl in your food processor). Juice lemon. In a large bowl, mix together the parsley, mint, pomegranate, walnuts, olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, sumac, allspice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper until fully incorporated. Give the mixture a taste and add more lemon juice and salt, if necessary. Serve with your favorite Middle Eastern dish or as part of a mezze. Delicious both at room temperature and cold.

    Serves about 6-8 as a side

  • mujaddara deluxe

    mujaddara deluxe

    When I originally posted my mujaddara recipe 4 1/2 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised when it became one of the most popular recipes on the blog. Mujaddara is a rice and lentil pilaf and very near and dear to my heart. When I decided that once and for all I would learn how to cook at the age of 22 (!), it was the first thing I set out to make. All you need is an onion, rice, lentils, olive oil, and salt. How hard could it be? Not very, it turns out, but it took several attempts and fine tuning to get it just where I wanted. In the years since I posted the recipe, I usually don’t make it “as is” unless I’m serving it as a side dish.

    On those nights when the pantry and fridge are looking scarce and I don’t know what to make, mujaddara is a reliable friend since I almost always have the ingredients handy. The base recipe remains the same, but I like to dress it up as much as possible with whatever I can scrounge up. You know those forlorn jars that live in the fridge door? That jar of red bell peppers? Sundried tomatoes? Hearts of palm? Old hot sauce? Harissa? That almost empty bag of frozen peas? The remaining bits of cashews shoved in to a corner of the cupboard? This is their time to shine, along with any other odds and ends in your fridge, freezer, and pantry that you may have forgotten about. Feel free to play around with spices, too. A little bit of coriander or pinch of cardamom work well here. It’s a truly everything but the kitchen sink kind of dish.

    The recipe below includes my latest version of mujaddara deluxe as I call it, along with some ideas for other variations. While I prefer to caramelize one onion per serving when making mujaddara, I only had one here.

    What’s your go-to pantry meal?

    Mujaddara Deluxe

    Base:
    olive oil
    1 onion, sliced
    3/4 cup rice
    3/4 cup lentils
    salt and pepper, to taste

    Extras:
    1/4 cup frozen peas
    2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
    2 tablespoons pickled sweet peppers, chopped
    1 sundried tomato slice, chopped
    1 tablespoon almonds, chopped

    Other variations:
    Dried or fresh herbs: thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil, mint
    Spices: cumin, coriander, cardamom, paprika, sumac
    Nuts: hazelnuts, almonds, pine nuts, walnuts
    Vegetables: carrot, bell pepper, jalapeno, cucumber, zucchini, radish
    Fragrant things: dash of rosewater or pomegranate molasses
    Hot things: hot sauce, harissa, sambal
    Canned things: artichokes, hearts of palm, beets, red peppers
    Sauce: yogurt, tahini

    Heal oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium low heat. When hot, add the onions. Add the onions and a few dashes of salt, stirring every few minutes, for 30 minutes. Turn the heat up a bit and continue cooking until the onions until they are a deep, golden brown, another 15-20 minutes or so. Set skillet aside.

    In the meantime, prepare the lentils and rice according to their package directions. Some people prefer to cook the lentils and rice together in the same pot, but I find that this results in overcooked lentils, so I always cook them separately. About 30 seconds before the rice is ready, drop in the frozen peas. When the lentils and rice are ready, pour them into a colander to drain out the water.

    Mix together the lentils and rice in a big pot. Add salt, pepper, a couple glugs of olive oil, most of the caramelized onion, parsley, pickled sweet peppers, sundried tomato, and almonds. Heat until the mujaddara is warm, add more salt and pepper to taste.

    Serve in bowls and garnish with the remaining caramelized onions. Serve warm and gobble it up!

    Serves 2

  • harissa roasted carrots with yogurt sauce

    harissa roasted carrots with yogurt sauce
    Looking through some of the recipes I’ve shared here, it’s easy to spot a pattern. Vegetables? Roast ’em. Need a sauce? Some variant of yogurt and/or tahini. With lots of garlic. Some things just work though, and I just can’t get enough of roasted vegetables with yogurt or tahini sauce. This is my current favorite way to serve carrots. They’re coated in harissa, which is a North African hot pepper paste, roasted until browned, and served with a generous serving of garlic yogurt sauce. This dish pairs perfectly with a big bowl of mujaddara.

    Not sure where to find harissa? It can be found at Middle Eastern and gourmet grocery stores. If you don’t have (or want to buy) harissa, just use your favorite hot sauce. The results won’t be the same, of course, but it will add that spicy kick to the dish that the yogurt helps offset.

    harissa roasted carrots with yogurt sauce 2

    Here’s my nosy neighbor watching me take photos of the carrots:

    nosy neighbor

    Mind your own business, will you? Sheesh!

    Harissa Roasted Carrots with Yogurt Sauce

    For the carrots:
    1 pound carrots, sliced in half
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons harissa
    1/4 teaspoon coriander
    salt and pepper, to taste
    dried mint, for garnish

    Yogurt sauce:
    1 cup plain yogurt
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    salt & pepper, to taste

    Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Slice carrots in half and place in a roasting pan. Mix the olive oil, harissa, coriander, coriander, salt, and pepper in a small bow. Coat the carrots in the harissa and olive oil mixture. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by mixing together the yogurt, garlic, salt, and pepper. After the carrots have been roasting for 20 minutes, remove them from the oven and turn them over. Add a little more olive oil if it seems dry. Place back in the oven and roast for another 30 minutes, or until the carrots are browned and caramelized. This may not be ready for an additional 10 or so minutes, but check on the carrots after 30. Some carrots may be ready before others, depending on the thickness of the carrot. Serve over yogurt and garnish with dried mint.

    Serves 4

  • barley with carrots and tahini sauce

    barley with carrots and tahini sauce

    The temperature has been oscillating between unbearable and tolerable, so when it’s tolerable I sneak moments in the kitchen to make meals and start kitchen projects (pickling, fermenting, jam making). On days when it’s especially hot, my thoughts are consumed by things I want to cook/eat. When that happens, I’ll either wait a day or two or just cook late at night. This is one of those late night dishes and with all late night dishes, they need to make for good leftovers.

    We recently joined a CSA, so every week we pick up a box at some weird location that magically contains vegetables. Besides all the celery* they’ve been sneaking in, it’s been great. One of our recent shares included carrots, jalapenos, and a big bunch of beautiful parsley, so I whipped up a barley dish that incorporated all three ingredients. As with many dishes I make, it has a Middle Eastern sort of flair, so don’t skip the tahini sauce! It really brings the dish together. Delicious on its own, this also makes a great side. We gobbled it all up with balela and dolmas.

    * – Do you have any suggestions to help make celery… uh… not suck?

    Barley with Carrots and Tahini Sauce

    For the main dish:
    1 1/2 cups dried quick cook barley or pearl couscous
    1 quart vegetable stock (or water)
    2 carrots, chopped into small pieces
    1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped into small pieces
    1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    1/4 teaspoon paprika
    1 tablespoon pine nuts
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    salt & pepper, to taste
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    a handful of parsley

    Tahini sauce:
    1/3 cup tahini
    1 tablespoon lemon juice
    2 tablespoons water
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 garlic clove, minced
    1/4 teaspoon cumin
    salt & pepper, to taste

    In a large pot over medium low heat, add barley (or pearl couscous) and vegetable stock. Stir often to make sure the barley doesn’t stick to the pan. Quick cook barley should only take 10-15 minutes, but check the package’s directions to double check the cooking time. A couple minutes before the barley is ready, add the jalapenos and carrots. Stir often.

    For the tahini sauce, mix all the ingredients and set aside.

    A couple minutes before the barley is ready, toss in the carrots and jalapeno pepper and mix. Once the barley is ready, stir in the coriander, paprika, pine nuts, lemon juice. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in olive oil, parsley, ladle into bowls, drizzle with tahini sauce, and serve.

    Serves 4